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Quentin Tarantino
Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Demian Bechir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern
Writing Credits:
Quentin Tarantino

In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

Box Office:
$62 million.
Opening Weekend
$4,610,676 on 100 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.76:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 166 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/29/2016

• “Beyond the Eight: A Behind the Scenes Look” Featurette
• “Sam Jackson’s Guide to Glorious 70mm” Featurette
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Hateful Eight [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 28, 2016)

After a relatively fallow period, Quentin Tarantino enjoyed a mid-career renaissance via two consecutive successes: 2009’s Inglourious Basterds and 2012’s Django Unchained. Both did very well at the box office and received good critical notices. Tarantino got his first Oscar nominations since 1994’s Pulp Fiction - and won the Best Original Screenplay prize for Django.

Alas, Tarantino’s streak ended with the fairly lackluster reception that came for 2015’s The Hateful Eight. Though the movie got a lot of attention for its use of super-widescreen 70mm photography, it nabbed good but not great reviews and sputtered at the box office. Eight’s $53 million US became Tarantino’s lowest-grossing film since 1997’s Jackie Brown.

Like many, I failed to see Eight theatrically, largely because the “buzz” around it seemed so mild. Still, Tarantino’s track record makes everything he does a “must see” project, even if the viewing waits for Blu-ray.

Set not too long after the end of the Civil War, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) transports his prisoner – alleged murderer Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) – to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming. Along the way, two passengers join their stagecoach: former Union soldier turned bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and alleged new Red Rock sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins).

As the stagecoach proceeds, it encounters a blizzard, so the passengers hole up at stopover called Minnie’s Haberdashery. There they encounter four others, and the inhabitants find themselves stuck together as tensions escalate.

While the notion of a 2.76:1 70mm effort excited film buffs, many wondered how useful these cinematic choices would be for a story like Eight. After all, one associates super-widescreen with bigger-than-life epics such as Ben-Hur, not a tale that takes place largely inside one confined setting.

I admit that added to the reasons I didn’t see Eight theatrically. The novelty of 70mm intrigued me, but it seemed like such a waste to use the format on something that sounded an awful lot like an Agatha Christie mystery. Would they shoot a remake of Clue at 2.76:1?

Eight does manage some effective cinematography at times, mainly through the Wyoming exteriors – those can be stunning. Still, I can’t help but feel that Taratino opted for 70mm more as a gimmick and a “pro-celluloid” statement than anything else. Would this movie be any worse if made at 2.35:1 – or even 1.85:1? No – even though I do like those nature shots, the story doesn’t need them to succeed.

Eight could use more judicious editing, however. At nearly three hours, the movie goes awfully long, and I don’t think it needs that length. Indeed, I suspect the tale would fare better if it lost a decent portion of that running time.

This seems especially true during the movie’s first half. Eight spends roughly its opening 90 minutes on character introduction and development, which seems fine – to a degree. I’m all for good exposition, but I don’t think this film needs all the character material we get.

Let’s face it: the roles in Eight never really rise above Western archetypes, so all the time Tarantino spends on their development doesn’t truly go anywhere. Sure, he manages to build a bit of tension amid internecine concerns, but I continue to suspect the movie could’ve gotten through those areas more quickly without any loss of depth.

After the long, slow build-up, Eight becomes more dynamic in its second half. That’s when we get more traditional Tarantino elements – namely interpersonal cruelty and graphic violence. The story kicks into much higher gear, too, as the various simmering tensions come to the fore.

And it’s all… pretty good. However, Tarantino long ago set the bar so high that “pretty good” doesn’t satisfy as much as it should. Maybe it’s not fair, but we expect greatness every time out from Tarantino, and Eight falls far short of that level.

Would it have come closer with a shorter running time? Perhaps, but I remain unconvinced that the movie boasts the substance to rise above its status as “pretty good”. The film simply lacks the spark that we expect from Tarantino; there’s something a bit forced about the whole enterprise that makes it less than enthralling.

I must admit I’ve become more than a little tired with Tarantino’s nearly pathological fascination with the “N-word”. Nearly every Tarantino movie uses that pejorative in abundance, and I think that it’s unnecessary the vast majority of the time.

So why does Tarantino do it? I don’t really know. Sure, Tarantino has given explanations over the years, but I find these unsatisfying and without a lot of logic. The “N-word” just seems to be some odd crutch of his, and he deploys it with a nearly Tourette Syndrome lack of inhibition.

I suspect the main claim for the “N-word” – and the liberal use of “bitch” thrown at Daisy – comes from the “that’s how people talked” argument. And to a degree, that’s true, but I still believe Eight throws these terms out to an unnecessary extreme. It goes beyond “that’s how people talked” and turns into a pointless distraction.

Word choices aside, The Hateful Eight offers a reasonably interesting Western. However, “reasonably interesting” seems like faint praise for a film by Quentin Tarantino. In terms of his filmography, Eight seems mid-tier; I like much of it but can’t claim that it approaches greatness.

Note that theatrical screenings of Eight came in two flavors. On Christmas Day 2015, a 187-minute “roadshow” version opened on 100 screens. This was the only way to see the film in full 70mm. A few weeks later, the movie broadened to thousands more screens, but those ran a shorter 167-minute 35mm cut.

The Blu-ray provides the edited Eight, though it doesn’t lose as much content as one might infer. While the shorter version lasts 20 minutes less than the roadshow, 16 of the “removed” minutes came from an overture and an intermission. This means only six minutes of narrative material got cut for the 35mm version.

Because I only saw the shorter edition, I can’t comment on the changes. I do find it odd that the Blu-ray opts for the 35mm cut, though. Perhaps we’ll get the “roadshow” version later, but it seems like the one fans would most want to see, so I don’t know why it doesn’t appear here.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

The Hateful Eight appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.76:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I hoped the 70mm photography would look great, and it did via this stunning transfer.

Sharpness always excelled. Despite the super-wide ratio, the movie remained tight and concise. No shimmering or jaggies appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also never materialized.

In terms of palette, exteriors tended toward a mild blue feel, while interiors went with more of a brown tone. These hues suited the story and looked positive. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows seemed smooth and clear. I felt completely impressed with this flawless presentation.

Though not as impressive, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked well. Exterior sequences offered the most involving audio, as the movement of stagecoaches as well as the ever-present blizzard managed to use the speakers in an engrossing manner. Music showed nice stereo spread and general ambience also added to the package.

I found no problems with the quality of the sound. Dialogue appeared crisp and concise, and music sounded full and rich. Effects demonstrated nice accuracy and range, with solid low-end as necessary. I thought the mix added to the experience.

Two featurettes appear here. Beyond the Eight runs four minutes, 58 seconds and offers notes from writer/director Quentin Tarantino, producer Stacey Sher, director of photography Bob Richardson and actors Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. We learn about story/characters as well as cast and performances. Little substance arrives in this promo piece.

Sam Jackson’s Guide to Glorious 70mm lasts seven minutes, 49 seconds and provides comments from Jackson, Taratino, Goggins, Richardson, Russell, Leigh, Sher, Panavision’s Jim Roudebush, Dan Sasaki and Bob Harvey, producers Shannon McIntosh and Richard Gladstein, 1st AC Gregor Tavenner, and actors Tim Roth and James Parks. We get some details about the movie’s use of Ultra Panavision. A few interesting insights emerge, but a lot of “Glorious” feels like an attempt to promote the movie’s roadshow run.

A second disc brings us a DVD Copy of Eight. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

At times, The Hateful Eight delivers the kind of dynamic over the top affair one expects from Quentin Tarantino. However, the movie runs too long, a factor that harms its overall impact. The Blu-ray offers stunning visuals and very good audio but it lacks substantial supplements. Eight feels like middle of the road

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5333 Stars Number of Votes: 15
7 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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